Maybe the title sounds crazy, but it’s a real-life true story. I should add that I don’t mean that my first football kit made me into Pele’s younger brother or landed me a contract with Arsenal. But it did make a major difference for me.
I remember when, decades ago, I started playing football. I must have been ten years old or so, and the first day I went out onto the field it was a cold and slightly foggy day. I was most definitely not vamped about it and while I knew that the net across the field was where the ball was supposed to go, I didn’t really know how to get it there other than waiting for the other players to get into the shower so I could give the ball a few almighty kicks.
I mostly remember spending a lot of time standing still, wondering if I should do something and if so, what. When I say standing still, that means almost still, because if you’re shivering as much as I was, still is a very relative term.
I had no experience other than kicking a ball around the village square once in a blue moon. In fact, I had no particular affinity with football itself. It was just the fact that every other kid in school played football with a fervour and could not stop talking about it that caused my mum to sign me up for the local team, and there I was. A new football player. Huzzah.
Well, that first Saturday morning on the field didn’t thrill me much. Neither did the second. Or the third. But after that, my mum brought home my first ever football kit, including the studded shoes. And magic happened instantly.
I Revolutionised the Game. Seriously
The next Saturday, I walked into the dressing room feeling incredibly glib, knowing what I had in my bag without the other kids being in the know. I put on my kit and felt like Johan Cruyff himself was tying my shoelaces.
I was ready.
When I walked out into the morning air, that day, I knew I was going to win this game. Sure, the team would be helping out a bit, but it was me by the grace of my football kit who would rock this game. I was on the ball, and I invented that phrase right then and there.
I ran flashily past any and all opponents, I skidded across the grass tearing up great lumps of sod, and I astonished all players with my deft ability to snatch away the ball from my team’s sharpest shooter just a second after he’d completely befuddled the goalie and was ready to score, and a second before I lobbed the ball neatly into the corner. Of the field, not of the goal.
I was hopeless. Completely, utterly, terribly hopeless. I’m not sure but I may even have scored a hat trick. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, that happened on my first ever match, not when I first wore my football kit. Still, I made a pretty advanced kind of fool of myself.
I just wasn’t a very good player. I think I played for half a year or so until I decided to stop. Or maybe I was kicked off the team, I don’t remember. What matters is that feeling I got when I first wore my football kit.
I’m smiling as I write this, because I just love that memory. I opened the box and there it was: my first football kit: All shiny and bright red, and with shoes that had a feel to them quite unlike any other shoe I had ever worn. It was magic. Absolute magic.